The first time we tasted this recipe was at Col’Caccio restaurant in Brooklyn Square. And every single time after that, during date night, we had this salad with a nice designer pizza.
Then, one day, we got there and the menu had changed. Our lovely Pera Salad was gone!
Well, we had to resort to our palletory memory, and try and recreate it. That was the only option.
The basic principle was simple: It was a pear salad that was braised in a red wine or a sweet wine, topped with a delicious sweet dressing, some sesame brittle and either Roquefort or Parmesan cheese shavings. On a bed of lettuce and rocket.
The recipe on the photo has some added pomegranate pips as we had two glorious pomegranates we had to utilise. It went very well with the Pera.
|Brown Demerara sugar||100ml|
|Parmesan cheese||50g, shaved with vegetable peeler|
|Mixed salad (Iceberg lettuce, rocket, some radiccio)||2 good handfuls|
|Pears||2, cored and sliced thinly|
How we went about it:
- Making the Sesame brittle
- I always start with this, as I use the same pan to do the pears in.
- I used raw white sesame seeds, which I lightly toasted and then added the brown sugar.
- I mix the seeds together with the sugar and keep a close eye on it (When you work with sugar, be vigilant, it burns in a second!)
- The sugar soon melts and then bubbles between the seeds. as soon as the sugar/seed mix “comes together” in the pan – it sort of merges little island lumps into an ocean of melted sugar, I take it off and immediately cool the pan in some cold water in the zinc. (Obviously by dipping the bottom of the pan into the cold water, not immersing it!) The mix sticks to the non-stick pan. (Don’t touch it, it will burn you and stick to your finger and keep on burning you!) (I know, I tried before, silly me).
- Then I put it in the freezer and leave it there to chill completely.
- When I take it out, it is sesame brittle, rock had and stuck to the pan. To get it out of the pan is simple. Put it on the stove again and heat it. Use a wooden spoon and nudge the brittle. In a few seconds you would find that it releases from the pan. Just slide it out of the pan into a metal bowl (I prefer metal as it cools the heated bottom quickly).
- As soon as it’s cooled, you have a nice sesame brittle disc that you can smash into smaller bits.
- Braising the pears
- As I said, I take the same pan I did the sesame brittle in, heat it up and add some Marsala sweet wine.
- The sugar bits and the seed oils blend with the Marsala to just tie the tastes together.
- Put the pear slices in, but don’t crowd them, as you want to braise them, not boil them.
- The pears will immediately take on the rich pinkish red colour of the Marsala. Lovely.
- Braise for about 5-8 minutes. I then add a knob of butter to glaze them.
- Put them aside to cool completely. (You don’t want to add them to the salad hot, as they will cook the salad leaves to a limp mess. You want everything crisp.
- Putting it all together
- I like to cool the leaves in a bowl of water with added ice. Crisps them up and fascinatingly, it removes any browned sides. The brown stays behind in the water. Great way to recycle a limp bad of salad.
- Spin the leaves dry (salad spinner or just wrapped in a kitchen towel and whizzed around a bit. I overdid it and splashed Heidi with whizzing ice water. No popularity contest was won there.
- Add to the salad bowl. Top with the pear slices and the pomegranate pips. Mix it if you want to. I like to mix it at the serving stage.
- Slice Parmesan (or Roquefort) on top. Sprinkle with ample sesame brittle.
- Deglaze the pan with some Marsala wine and a little bit of Malt vinegar. Use this as a dressing. Just a drizzle.
The tastes are incredible together. We have made it a few times, and sometimes have no Marsala, but, no sweat, we just use Sherry or Port or Jerepigo. Who cares, tastes good and unique every time.